Rodgers, Whitley, Russell, Nikorak on hand to hear names called in 1st round
By Paul Casella
SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Four aspiring big leaguers attended Monday's MLB Draft with the hopes of taking the next step toward accomplishing their dream -- and all four heard their respective names called in the first round.
The first such player was Lake Mary High School (Fla.) shortstop Brendan Rodgers, who didn't have much of a wait at all. Rodgers was selected with the third overall pick by the Rockies, becoming the first of the four players attending the event in-person to come off the board.
Not only did Rodgers have a short wait when it came to being drafted, but he also didn't have to wait very long to meet one of his newest potential teammates. The Rockies took Stroudsburg (Pa.) High School right-hander Mike Nikorak, who was one of the other three Draft hopefuls in attendance, with their next pick.
As if the 25 people Nikorak brought with him to Secaucus weren't enough, Rodgers and his entourage celebrated alongside Nikorak after the Rockies selected him 27th overall.
"I saw his face and he saw my face in multiple different places," Nikorak said. "Me and Brendan, we're both ballplayers and we both know what needs to be done. We're definitely friends, and we're going to build that relationship as we work together in the organization."
As for the two others in attendance, Niskayuna (N.Y.) outfielder Garrett Whitley went to the Rays with the 13th overall pick and Cathedral (Ind.) High School right-hander Ashe Russell was taken by the Royals with the No. 21 pick.
"I mean, I'm just so happy," Whitley said. "I have had a good relationship with the Rays throughout this whole thing. I felt like I have a lot of information about the team and they've done a really good job of forming relationships with me. So I feel absolutely comfortable with going to them. I'm just so happy."
All four players being selected in the first round comes one year after five of the seven Draft attendees were selected in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft. A record eight out of nine attendees were taken in the first round in 2013.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.